By Charlie High
19 Jun 2013
My first Bonnaroo was a complete blast. Props to Valerie and Eron E. for advice and assistance in designing the ultimate experience. At the age of 62, the VIP camping experience was important to my well-being and enjoyment. It was HOT in the daylight and I stayed out until 3:30-5:30 AM every morning. Props to my chiropractor, Beth Barnett, for rehabbing my lower back with adjustment, acupuncture, electrical stimulation and taping. Was able to stand for hours, sleep on the ground and dance my ass off. Props to Marijke and Nick B., my campsite neighbors, for sharing their experience with me, including jump-starting my car when I ran the battery down charging the phone.
Arrived in Manchester about 11 AM. Went in the super secret VIP entrance next to the Nissan dealership (do not give out that information.) Set up tent and table by 11:30.
Ate the complimentary dinner at 5:00 PM before a night of music.
Started with Araabmuzik on recommendation of someone I just met. Rocked the Other Tent with electronic music.
Stayed at the Other Tent for Walk the Moon, very impressed. Seemed to keep moving further and further into the tent, hotter and more crowded, but fun.
Stayed on for Purity Ring, the only music that I did not dig. That is probably my lack of understanding rather than their quality.
Went to That Tent for Father John Misty, formerly in Fleet Foxes.
At 11:30, I got to see Alt J, the great new talent Brent turned me on to. Superb.
Finished with ALO and special guest, producer Jack Johnson. Played until 3.
Paul McCartney woke me at 8:30 AM with their sound check.
At 11, went with Valerie and Eron to a brunch hosted by Eron's friend from San Francisco. Got a tour of the grounds since his camper was as far away from our section as you could get. We taxied over, so decadent.
Music started at 12:30 with Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. Someone I know is a nice start.
Then I checked out Calexico, Oh Yeah, I know that song. "Splitter"
On to Glen Hansard, star of the movie "Once", singer-song-writer from Ireland. So soulful, what a talent.
Took a break to eat and change clothes for the night shows.
Wilco was tight as ever with their catalog of classic tunes. "Skyscrapers are scraping together. You were right about the stars, every one is a setting sun."
Paul McCartney played almost 3 hours solid. I have not seen a Beatle before. Although Paul was never my favorite Beatle, there's no denying the talent. He should have supported the great band with introductions that we could hear. The video show itself was worth watching even if there was no concert. Favorite song was "Helter-Skelter."
After Paul, I caught ZZ Top, an old favorite. "Lagrange" rocked.
Closed out with Pretty Lights' amazing laser light show.
Started out in the Comedy Theatre with Michael Che and Nikki Glaser.
Michael said, "This ain't no music festival, this a tittie festival. I been liking titties since I was a little baby."
Nikki's jokes are not repeatable.
Caught Jeff the Brotherhood from Nashville, Tennessee. They shook the ground.
Lord Huron was a very talented band along the lines of Decemberist/Munford and Sons.
Look for their record.
Portugal the Man was next. Got some pictures right up front. The dude has a really high voice and a smoking band.
Took a break at the water feature to cool off.
The Lumineers shined at 8:15, wild crowd. A lumineer is a paper hot air balloon that lights up the sky. Thousands of the things are launched during music performances at night.
Jack Johnson stood in for Munford and Sons with aplomb. Huge fireworks display followed.
Maybe my favorite performance was the Rock and Soul Dance Party Superjam. It was hosted by Jim James of "My Morning Jacket" and featured Brittany Howard of "Alabama Shakes" , Zigaboo Modeliste of the "Meters", Larry Graham of "Sly and the Family Stone" and R. Kelly.
Brittany's "(Can't Get No) Satisfaction" was reminiscent of Otis Redding's version. Played the whole hit catalog of "Sly and the Family". Sing along, dance along.
Saturday was the best music day so far.
9:00 AM wake-up call from Tom Petty sound check. Don't have to live like a refugee. Make some breakfast and get ready to go see Kasey Musgraves at noon. She says it's the first time she has been to Bonnaroo legally. Snuck in once before. Got some photos of KM. Favorite line, "It is what it is, until it ain't." Go girl!
Cool down at the water feature with a Ben and Jerry popsicle. Photo op.
Really wanted to see the Sheepdogs, one of the best live bands out now. I call them a southern rock band, from southern Canada, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Check out "Southern Dreaming" with that two guitar harmony. Got down right in front of the stage. Got some photos of the guys in Peanut Butter Lovesicle checking out the competition.
After dinner, I caught The National from my campsite. I could see the big stage just over the fence from my campsite. Chilled with some camp neighbors from Alabama. Looked like rain so I put on the poncho and headed to Tom Petty. Petty was glad to be closing out to such a receptive crowd. Even played some Traveling Wilbury's music. Some beautiful guitar music coming down. Rain quit after 30-45 minutes. Took off the poncho and heard a great set.
Bonnaroo 2013 was a blast of positive energy. I saw no fights, law officers, arguments or hating. Although, I seldom saw anyone else in their 60's, except performers, I was treated as a peer by thousands of young music fans. The performers fed off the energy of the appreciative and knowledgeable fans. The staff was low-key but effective and helpful.
Being out in the country without a building in sight makes for a laid-back setting. Lots of cool green grass and trees provided natural air conditioning. The idyllic scene cannot last forever so get out there next time.
There is so much more to see, the progressive political organizations on site, the ambitious educating recycling program, the Bonnaroo app for electronic devices and the cinema. It is an adult themed experiment, without doubt, but well organized and controlled.